Honouring Canada’s Lifeline (HCL) is an annual, national event recognizing some of the country’s most dedicated people at the heart of Canada’s Lifeline.
Each year, it takes hundreds of thousands of blood donors, stem cell donors, organ and tissue donors, financial donors, employees and volunteers — as well as thousands of community and corporate groups and partners — to save the lives of patients across Canada. Honouring Canada’s Lifeline is our opportunity to recognize the many contributors along that path.
Honouring Canada's Lifeline Live Event
This year, we celebrated virtually with special guest host Heather Badenoch and musical guests Kalsey Kulyk and Donovan Woods. We hope you enjoy this story about the power of connections: from blood and plasma, to stem cells, and organs and tissues.
Heather had originally applied to be a living liver donor for a specific child near Ottawa, who had made a public plea for a donor in 2016. Fortunately, that child found a match and had a successful transplant. Heather asked to remain in the screening process for anyone else in need.
Norma and her sister Colette Bachez learned the importance of donation in the hardest way possible. A niece of theirs, Cheryl Lynn Boyle, needed countless blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant to treat aplastic anemia, a rare and often fatal condition.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is a longtime participant in the Partners for Life program, promoting the importance of donating blood through social media and hosting a variety of on-site events.
“We’ve partnered with Canadian Blood Services for more than a decade and our members are proud to do whatever they can to help,” says Qamar Ahmad, social services director for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA), Calgary Region.
YRP’s engagement with Canadian Blood Services takes many forms. In 2011, YRP detective Ashley Smith organized a blood donor event in honour of constable Garrett Styles, who died while on duty. It’s since become an annual event.
Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency (HRFE) continues to increase the support it provides to Canadian Blood Services. Much of the credit goes to current captain Annette Thompson, hired as a firefighter in 2007.
Americo has enjoyed a storied life. Born in Portugal, he immigrated in 1967, Canada’s centennial year. He settled in Vancouver, where he unexpectedly met someone from his home village — a woman who used to play with his younger sister.
A volunteer all of her life, Hedy Halpern helped Vietnamese refugees settle in and around Montreal in the 1970s. Over the years, she’s also given her time and efforts to numerous youth groups and community theatre companies.
A high school teacher born and raised in Lethbridge, Alta., Cori-Jo first donated blood as a teenager. She’s completed 95 more donations since then and regularly encourages others, particularly first-timers, to join her.
Susan’s youngest brother, Bille Nguyen, had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive blood cancer several months earlier. Doctors said his only hope was a stem cell transplant. Susan and her two sisters had hoped one of them could be a donor, but the doctors were not initially optimistic, in part because only 25 per cent of patients find a match within their own families.
Jessica Thomas is also a blood donor, stem cell registrant, financial supporter and philanthropic ambassador for Canadian Blood Services. In 2011, the Campaign for All Canadians raised more than $12.5 million from financial donors across the country to establish a national public cord blood bank.
Sharon’s son Cameron was just nine years old when he died of a rare brain cancer in May 2020. The Bulger family is receiving this year’s Schilly Award, which honours a person or group who has contributed significantly to donor recruitment or public awareness of the need for blood, stem cells, or organs and tissues.
Heydan Morrison, now nine, has relied on immunoglobulin — a medication derived from donated plasma — since he was five years old. His mother, Shannon, expects he’ll need it for the rest of his life to treat a rare immune disorder called hypogammaglobulinemia.
“At Canadian Blood Services, people have the chance to give life’s essentials to patients in Canada and to become involved in something greater than themselves,” says Aaron Barlow, a territory manager with Canadian Blood Services in Regina, Sask.
“We know our donors, and we all work together to provide the best experience possible,” says Jacob Perry, donor centre supervisor in Charlottetown, P.E.I. “All the team members have their own strengths and are encouraged to use them at work.”
In April 2020, Jerry became Canadian Blood Services’ first donor of COVID-19 convalescent plasma. Plasma is a component of blood, and COVID-19 convalescent plasma is plasma obtained from fully recovered COVID-19 patients.